Before an altar with a candle lit in her mother's memory, Cate Edwards said "I do" to college sweetheart Trevor Upham.
Only 10 months earlier, Edwards was grieving the loss of her mother, Elizabeth Edwards, who died of breast cancer at age 61 last December.
But Saturday was meant to be a day of celebration. Not even her father John Edwards' legal troubles could overshadow the day, as he was caught by a local television camera slipping out the back door of University United Methodist Church in Chapel Hill, N.C., after the 4 p.m. wedding ceremony.
It's not clear whether he walked her down the aisle as The New York Times had earlier reported he would.
"Couldn't be a nicer, better day," family friend Glenn Bergenfield told local television station WRAL.
Days earlier, Edwards, 29, spoke to People about her wish for her wedding day.
"We want this to be really happy and joyous and that's what my mother would want," Edwards, 29, told the magazine. "There are a lot of sort of small ways that she's infused into the day."
An arrangement of altar candles was lit in memory of Cate's late brother, Wade, and Trevor's deceased grandparents.
"Mom's candle is the big one in the middle," Edwards explained to People.
Edwards also included one of her mother's favorite Maya Angelou poems, which was read during the service.
Close friend Jennifer Palmieri said Elizabeth Edwards could be felt throughout her elder daughter's day: "It's like every song is Elizabeth's song, every flower is Elizabeth's flower."
Upham's father, Chris, reportedly served as his best man. Edwards' sister, Emma Claire, 13, was her maid of honor, while her 11-year-old brother, Jack, was a groomsman. Edwards reportedly had 14 bridesmaids.
WRAL reported that about 300 people gathered for the wedding.
Edwards' father John hosted Saturday evening's reception on the lawn of the family's sprawling estate outside Chapel Hill.
A musical trio entertained guests during cocktails and hors d'oeuvres of shrimp and grits, Carolina crab cakes and other Southern delicacies. After dinner, a rock-and-roll dance band hired by Upham, 30, who used to book party bands when he and Edwards were students at Princeton University, took the stage.
The reception had a "rustic romantic" theme that Edwards had planned with her mother in the two weeks between her engagement and her mother's death.
"I feel so lucky to have shared that joy with her, to have had the time to leaf through bridal magazines together and talk about the wedding," Edwards wrote in an article for Glamour magazine. "Even though I've had to plan the wedding without her, I feel blessed because, in her last weeks, she told me she was comforted to know I'd set forth on my own life path, with someone she loved and respected, and with whom she truly believed I would be happy."
Edwards said her mother "advised me to think carefully about the ceremony: It could be an important map, she said, for our life together."
The sunny fall day was a bright spot for a family that has endured so much loss and upheaval in the last year.
John Edwards, a former U.S. senator and two-time presidential nominee, was charged this year with using about $1 million in campaign funds to cover up his affair with his staff videographer Rielle Hunter during his 2008 run for the White House.
Their affair produced a daughter, Quinn, now 3, who was believed not to be at the wedding.
John Edwards, who has pleaded not guilty, will go on trial early next year. On Wednesday, he will go to court for a hearing on his motion to have the charges thrown out.
Bergenfield, who had dinner with the ex-senator the night before his daughter's wedding, said, "John's feeling proud and happy. He too loves Trevor. And he's doing great. John's strong. He's got some hard time ahead. But today's a wonderful day."